When people think of internships in college, they usually think about the hours spent trying to perfect their resume before February applications for summer gigs. While summer internships are an awesome opportunity to get a feel for full-time work, I’ve found that my favorite professional experience thus far coincided with my fall quarter classes.

After deciding to study abroad in the summer, the panic of missing #internshipszn started to set in. Luckily, I remembered my friend who had mentioned her experience with Northwestern’s Chicago Field Studies (CFS) program. Students enrolled in this course can pursue an internship for a quarter while attending a CFS class once a week.

Once I was accepted into the program, I met with my assigned CFS advisor who helped me edit my resume, prepare for interviews, and narrow down my list of potential employers. Something I loved about the program was that Chicago companies reach out to Northwestern to fill their internship positions. This means that before I even had to search for jobs, my advisor had a list of places that had relationships with Northwestern and wanted to hire CFS students.

After choosing my internship, I attended an orientation during the first week back on campus with all the CFS students for that quarter. There, we chatted with the people who would be in our class, heard tips for making the best out of our work experience, and most importantly ate a lot of free mini desserts. Feeling adequately prepared, I went in for my first day of my internship (which was a lovely trip considering the train into Chicago was a one minute walk from my apartment just off campus). I was working on the marketing team at a Chicago tech startup called Kapow, and while it was technically work, I couldn’t help but feel overly excited about the view from the office. I loved the fast-paced environment, my helpful supervisors, and all of the festivities that come with working in the tech industry. I got more Kapow swag than I will ever know what to do with. More importantly, I learned what I valued in a workplace.  I also became a lot more familiar with the world of digital marketing AND found an amazing salad spot down the street from my office – a true win win.

The days that I was on campus, I enjoyed being around my friends and not having to always feel like an adult. Meeting with my CFS class once a week allowed me a safe space to talk about how my experience was going and to hear about everyone else’s internships. Because my course also had a humanities focus, I loved studying text about “work” as a concept in a classroom setting. We read poems by Maya Angelou about being a working woman of color, analyzed “Fight Club” and “Office Space,” and talked a solid amount about the series “Mad Men.” We even saw a play together in one of Chicago’s wonderful storefront theatres! Overall, I couldn’t be more grateful for the program. I met outstanding people who supported me, valued my work, and gave me the tools to consider what I want going forward in my career.

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